When moviegoers left theaters after watching Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan in the fall of 2006, they were left to ponder one big question: Was Pamela Anderson in on that?
The climax of the film, which earned its star Sacha Baron Cohen an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and was named the No. 2 best comedy of all time by The Guardian, centers around Borat Sagdiyev’s attempt to put the Baywatch star in a traditional marriage sack during a Virgin Megastore book signing and bring her back to Kazakhstan to be his wife.
When Anderson was first asked how she ended up in the movie shortly after it came out, she demurred, telling the press, “I can't really say. I'm sworn to secrecy.” And while she has since admitted that she was in on the joke, the notoriously secretive Baron Cohen has been hesitant to speak about it on the record—until now.
“She was the only person in on that movie, yes,” he told me during a live interview for the SAG Conversation series that will be released as an episode of The Last Laugh podcast next week. “Otherwise, it would have been kidnapping.”
Baron Cohen, who is promoting his Golden Globe-nominated Showtime series Who Is America? ahead of this year’s Emmy Awards, explained that they actually shot the scene twice. “The first time we did it at a book signing and I grabbed her over my shoulder and ran out with her and no one did anything,” he said. “I was like, what kind of fans are these? So we did it again and they started running after me.”
He didn’t realize it during the scene, but when he tried to pick her up, she “clipped her jaw.” Calling Anderson “amazingly brave,” Baron Cohen said that she actually “lost two things” that day. “One, she lost a tiny bit of bone from her jaw,” he explained, “and secondly, she lost a husband.”
At that point, Baron Cohen’s wife Isla Fisher, who was seated in the front row, started gesturing for him to stop talking. “No?” he asked her. “Eh, it’s OK.” The comedian was referring to another Borat-related legend that he had never before confirmed himself.
When the film was released in November 2006, Anderson had recently married rapper—and current Trump fanatic—Kid Rock. The pair filed for divorce just a few weeks later. At the time, tabloids reported that they screened the movie at the home of then-president of Universal Pictures Ron Meyer and when it was over Kid Rock “started screaming at Pam, saying she had humiliated herself and telling her, ‘You're nothing but a whore! You're a slut! How could you do that movie?’”
Baron Cohen said that he texted Anderson after that screening and asked, “How did it go? What did he think?” She texted back that they were getting divorced. When he asked her why, she replied, “The movie.”
“And I thought it was a joke but then a few weeks later they got divorced and they put as a reason for divorce, Borat,” Baron Cohen added, before joking, “I think they were a fantastic couple, so it’s a shame. Much better than Julian Assange or whoever she dated later on.”
Subscribe to The Last Laugh podcast now so you can hear the full conversation with Sacha Baron Cohen, including truly incredible stories about his interactions with Dick Cheney, O.J. Simpson, Ben Carson, Donald Trump and a lot more, when it is released next Tuesday, June 4th.